When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.
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The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
2) Install. I was a bit intimidated with the install as I’ve never wired anything up before and our house is new construction. But the YouTube video and pamphlets made it pretty clear to follow. They also emphasize that you can call them at any point for assistance. I had also been told by the security system guy that install was super easy and I could do it myself (he’s also the one who gave me the tip about the fiberglass shims). He also gave me an extra tidbit for those of us with stone or brick exteriors: drill into the grout lines – they drill easy; stone does not.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
Once your trial of ring video recording ends, you can no longer access past events without a paid subscription. That's not such a big deal until you realize what counts as a "recent event". If you don't press the button within about 5 seconds of getting a motion alert, you missed your shot and now it's a past event. Say the UPS guy comes, presses the doorbell and walks off immediately. Your phone properly notifies you that somebody is at your door, but you've got something in your hands, or your phone is in your pocket or any other distraction is going on that takes 5 seconds to finish. By the time you hit the notification banner and go into the app, it will take you to a screen that says you need a paid subscription to see past events. Earlier today I got a notification WHILE holding my phone, clicked it immediately, but the live video loaded slowly and by the time it did load, the "event" was considered done and it took me to the screen saying I needed to pay. I have no problem paying to record everything and be able to pull up events from hours, days or weeks ago, but needing to pay because 5 seconds went by and the app loaded slowly is a rip-off. This is a $200 item which replaces a $5 hardware store doorbell, and the ONE thing it's supposed to do (show you live video of rings or motion events at your door) doesn't work about half the time without paying extra. There needs to be about a 30 second window at minimum where you can see what's going on without having to pay extra.